25 Hours: Three Flights and a Bus Ride

After a whirlwind week in Edmonton we were mostly prepared and caught up on last minute purchases and errands. Not to mention numerous drives each out to Acheson and out to Sherwood Park. We were packed up and left the house before lunch on Thursday after a few late nights and early mornings in a row. With a last quicik goodbye stop at Trucker’s Toybox, we were off to the Edmonton International Airport. Ray, Denise & Monique all met us out there for a last goodbye which was really great. There was barely any security lineup at all and we stayed to visit over lunch before succumbing to the pocket emptying humiliation of entering the “Secure Area”.

 Our first flight was fairly quick to Vancouver, and we hung out there for a couple hours until our next flight. The second flight was also on Air Canada, but on a small commuter jet with a fantastic in-seat media/entertainment system. The LCD pannels were touch screen with individually selectable movies, musics videos, games or other information. Plus adjacent to every screen was a USB port for charging up portable electronic devices like audio players or PSP’s. We had a slight scare when we realized that Claudette or I had “misplaced” our luggage claim tags, and weren’t entirly sure if Air Canada had booked them all the way through or not. When we landed in San Jose’ our bags were safe and sound waiting for us though. San Jose’ was (almost needless to say) hot and instantly muggy. It was certainly beautiful and very lush & green every where we looked. The COSI school had a driver waiting for us and with the two larger suitcases strapped to the top of a little Nissan 4 door old taxi, we set off towards the bus station. The driver knew little English but conveyed to us that we had lots of time, and suggested we stop for a bite to kill some time. We agreed and he came to a parking lot accross from a Subway. Claudette, Alex and I had eaten on the plane, so Luke ordered an omlette for breakfast while the rest of us just got a bottle of water (and a cookie to satiate Rick’s ity bity sweet tooth). I wanted to wander down the street for a bit, but we had all (for some reason???) brought our heavy and cumbersome backpacks and so Claudette denied my request to wander down this commercial street for a half hour or so. The driver had just gotten a newspaper and opted to stay with our bags which were tied to the top of the car. We proceeded to a bank to change some US$ to Colones (the Costa Rican currency) and then on to the bus station. We were warned in e-mails, paper documention and by the driver of the treacherousness of the neighborhood, but kept an eye on our bags and all was fine. We left barely a couple minutes late and endured a spendidly beautiful (but equally harrowing) ride through deep green valleys, up mountainous switchbacks, accross one way bridges and skirting precarious cliff edges right out of some crazy movie. I’ve driven with many an Englishmen before but was astoundeed at the driving here in Costa Rica. Monteray, Mexico was similar for absolute crazy drivers, but the roads there were much better and more uniform and organized. I captured a bit of video through the bus windows and struggeled to get comfortable in the newer but very cramped bus.

Our host family met us at the Bus station and we took two taxi’s the short distance to their house. It is a very new house, since their previous one was reduced to rubble in an earthquake a couple years ago. For the first night we were all in one room with 3 bed spots since there is a brother and sister guest in the other two single bed rooms for just one more night. They were from Alaska and had spent the past four weeks attending COSI and staying with this family and had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The family have a puppy which Alex & Luke (AND Claudette & I) had great fun cuddling and playing with. Due to our terrible sleeps on the Plane, they crashed about 8:30 while I stayed up barely another hour to type in my log plus visit with the family and other guests for a bit.

Today, (Saturday) we all had nice cool showers, a leisurely breakfast, and then wandered around town for most of the rest of the day. We had lunch at a restraunt suggested by the other students but found it to be quite a bit more expennsive than we had planned, even though the food was really good. Sunday we plan on hitting the beach adjacent to the National Park.

While wandering around town I was hit up by a street urchin and a con guy but brushed them both off easily enough. We bought a new hat for Luke (who lost his) and a rawhide bone for Sol, the puppy at home who loves to nibble on everything, including us!  After supper, sitting around watching TV & visiting we experienced our first E*A*R*T*H*Q*U*A*K*E ! ! !   Ever…   It was kinda cool! Things shook a bit, but it was very brief. Alex and Luke were bopping around and playing with the puppies, so they didn’t really even notice. The family agreed that this was about a four on the Rhictor scale, but the one that brought down their house a couple years ago was about a 6.8 or 6.9. Their rebuilt home is a much more solid construction with elasticity built in for the vibrations of earthquakes

I am dripping wet from sweat, and will need a shower to cool down before being able to sleep yet tonight. The typical afternoon rains never came today to cool things down. It’s 8:30 PM, but I am going to see about possibly wandering down to the internet cafe to publish a blog post. (And reply a HUGE thanks to Dallas for finishing my furnace install.)

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